Wednesday, December 2, 2020

PM Imran to make maiden visit to Afghanistan as peace talks drag on

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Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has been invited to Kabul by Aghani President Ashraf Ghani. The Afghan peace process in which Pakistan has played an important part, and the future of which is expected to be discussed after Joe Biden’s victory in the US elections.

The exact date of the visit has not yet been announced but according to the Afghan Foreign Ministry, the visit should take place sometime next week.

This will be PM Imran’s first visit to Afghanistan since his taking office in August 2018.

Latest situation on the ground

President Trump ordered further withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, a decision that has as per reports not been welcome in the Pentagon or within his own party.

BBC reports that senior Republicans and US allies have voiced alarm at the announcement that a large number of American troops will be removed from Afghanistan

According to the Department of Defense the number of service personnel in Afghanistan will fall from 4,500 to about 2,500.

Read more: Will Biden seek de-escalation with America’s rivals?

The head of Nato warned of a “very high price”. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the plan “a mistake”.

The Biden transition team has not yet commented on the announcement.

PM Imran to visit Afghanistan

Under the US-Taliban agreement signed in February, all US forces will be withdrawn by May 2021, but, in theory, only if the Taliban fulfil certain conditions. Those don’t seem to have been met yet.

As to what the Biden administration may bring to the table in respect to Afghanistan, Ajmal Shams, Kabul based former deputy minister in the Afghan national unity government said that, “The Afghan government may think Biden’s victory might mean some shift in US policy. However, Biden’s view on Afghanistan during his term as former US vice president is no different from President Trump’s.”

Biden wrote in Foreign Affairs earlier this year, “It is past time to end the forever wars, which have cost the US untold blood and treasure,” adding: “As I have long argued, we should bring the vast majority of our troops home from the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East and narrowly define our mission as defeating Al-Qaeda and Daesh.”

Read more: President Joe Biden’s Vision for USA

Ajmal also predicted that one can safely assume that Biden will continue President Trump’s policy on Afghanistan.

PM Imran Khan during his visit will meet President Ghani, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, the head of Afghanistan’s High peace council and other authorities and affirm Pakistan’s support for the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Islamabad has played a key part in brokering the ongoing peace process, something that has been acknowledged both by Kabul and Washington.

GVS News Desk

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